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Published on 12 May 2011

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Researchers make Aids breakthrough

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After successful animal trials, scientists in the US found the vaccine has the potential to rid the body of the Aids virus, HIV.

The vaccine is administered via injection but is carried by a persistent virus which remains in the body for life.

With Cytomegalovirus (CMV), the body’s immune system is able to stay on continuous look-out for HIV.

Scientists enjoyed outstanding results after using different versions of the vaccine against a monkey form of the Aids virus, SIV (Simian Immunodeficiency Virus).

More than half the rhesus macaques treated responded to the point where even the most sensitive tests detected no signs of SIV.

To date, most of the animals have maintained control over the virus for more than a year, gradually showing no indication that they had ever been infected.

Unvaccinated monkeys infected with SIV went on to develop the monkey equivalent of Aids, caused by the collapse of their immune systems.

The findings suggest the vaccine could be effective enough to rid the body of immunodeficiency virus completely, according to the scientists writing in the journal Nature.

Conventional antiretroviral therapies are able to control HIV infection, but cannot clear the virus from its hiding places within the immune system’s white blood cells.

Study leader Dr Louis Picker, from Oregon Health & Science University’s Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute (VGTI), said: “The next step in vaccine development is to test the vaccine candidate in clinical trials in humans.

“For a human vaccine, the CMV vector would be weakened sufficiently so that it does not cause illness, but will still protect against HIV.”

Copyright © Press Association 2011

Nature



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